I visited Baghdad in 2007 as a guest of Gen. David Petraeus. Before the trip I had written a column forecasting another broken Army, but it was clear from what Petraeus showed me that the Army was holding on and fighting well in the dangerous streets of Baghdad. Such a small and overcommitted force should have broken after so many serial deployments to that hateful place. But Petraeus said that his Army was different. It held together because junior leaders were still dedicated to the fight. To this day, I don’t know how they did it.
Sadly, the Army that stayed cohesive in Iraq and Afghanistan even after losing 5,000 dead is now being broken again by an ungrateful, ahistorical and strategically tone-deaf leadership in Washington.
To some extent, the downsizing and underfunding of the Army after every war is almost inevitable. Our public grows weary of war, and of the expense of war.
But MG Scales overlooks one of the key factors driving young men and women from the ranks today. That is the studious focus of senior leadership today on social engineering in the force, rather than focusing limited resources on mission essential tasks.
For instance, while we have best wishes for the three remaining women currently cycling through Ranger School, we also find it an incredible waste of time and energy to be pushing for women in combat arms. Proponents are quick to tout the benefits of increased opportunity to the soldiers involved, but have not ever coherently explained just how opening the career fields to women will actually enhance the mission readiness of maneuver units.